It happened without notice.
I admit that I wasn’t even truly paying attention, when it did.
See I was doing what I do best at my girls’ friend’s birthday parties, by hanging out with the other moms chatting it up and staying on the side lines.
In essence, I was doing what is expected of me now by my almost, 6 year old daughter.
Yet, out of nowhere it did indeed happen.
My mom heart immediately swelled and overflowed with pride.
Where did my shy, introverted caterpillar go, who as a baby used to cover her face if she was put on the spot?
She is long gone having been replaced by this colorful, beautiful butterfly of a young girl, who has found her voice and confidence.
Apparently when asked who would like to get up to sing karaoke at this party, my once introverted child, actually volunteered first to sing, “Let It Go” alongside her friend.
But for a kid, who was terribly bashful, this is a major milestone for her in my eyes.
The moment passed and I indeed, “Let It Go” until we were in the car afterwards, when I approached her about this by letting her know I was indeed so very proud, but by also inquiring about how this came about.
Wise beyond her years, she answered me simply and perfectly saying, “I was nervous at first, but then I remembered what my Daisy (Girl Scout) troop leader told us about being brave and then I did just that by being brave, singing and having so much fun with my friend doing it.”
This got me to thinking how we got from that sheepish, baby girl to this confident, young girl.
If you have a timid child, you may be wondering, too.
In essence, “How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” — Trina Paulus
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Well here are three ways, we helped our little caterpillar transform into the mighty and glorious butterfly :
1. Don’t Helicopter Parent the Social Butterfly Within:
In the early years, I always more or less tried my best not to hover by stepping back whenever possible, allowing my inhibited child to explore new people and situations at her own pace.
When new people (friends and extended family) did introduce themselves to her, I would let her feel her own way to them. Sometimes she would take a hour or so to acclimate to them, other times it was only 10 minutes or so. But whatever length of time it took, I never forced the issue with her. Same with new experiences, too.
2. Acceptance by Not Changing to Embrace the Inner Social Butterfly:
In that vein however, I never tried to force my child’s hand at being something she wasn’t.
However, I accepted that she was more reserved and reticent in being put in the lime light or on the spot, where she would have all eyes on her. Again, I let her navigate new unchartered waters for herself, but was there if and when she needed me.
I let her know that I was proud of her no matter what and that she was loved for who she was, too. I never pressured her to try to be more outgoing or what wasn’t in her nature at this point.
3. Peer Centered Social Activities Rule to Further Bring Out the Social Butterfly:
While, I once again didn’t overload her in new, anxiety laden activities, I still made sure she had plenty of opportunities to interact with kids her own age.
At a little over 2 years old, I enrolled her in dance class, loosened my hand grip and watched as my toddler-aged child walked away from me for the first time to spend an hour once a week not clinging to my side.
At first as much as I knew that this was what she needed, this still wasn’t easy for the mom in me going against all my gut instincts to want to hold her hand and not let go, but I did it full well knowing that as I mentioned in #1 that I couldn’t and most definitely shouldn’t hover.
The following year, I also made sure to enroll her in pre-school for 2 1/2 hours a day for two years with the three and four year old classes, which I feel prepared her for the inevitable full-day kindergarten and being away from me for over 6 hours, 5 days a week. By the way, this wasn’t about getting ahead academically, as much as it was to have her make friends and socially blossom.
While I might not be an expert in child psychology, I am a mom to a once introverted caterpillar, who is now more of a social butterfly that has indeed taken flight and more than happy to share what worked for us.